If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is set in stone. The concepts and standards we take for granted can be turned on their heads in the blink of an eye, taking our beloved best practices with them. So, what does this mean for B2B marketers? It means that we have to be agile, flexible, and more than ever – digital-first in all our touchpoints with clients - and prospects.
And that is even more the case when it comes to our Demand Generation programs.
A business’ digital strategy has always been important to the marketing mix, but last year's dramatic efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (work from home, canceled events, and restricted travel), shifted digital marketing from important to paramount.
When we look at demand generation specifically, the emphasis on digital isn’t just about doing more of what we were doing digitally already – it's about creating new programs, new channels, and new processes.
And while the strategies and tactics we’re used to may have changed, the focus of demand generation hasn’t. Demand gen specialists are still focused on:
- Attracting new business
- Optimizing revenues from current clients
- Maximizing the efficiency of your spending when measured against revenue acquired
As we pursue these goals, we’ll stick to some key foundational elements of B2B marketing, like collaborating with our sales teams, targeting the right markets and buyers, creating content that’s meaningful to our audience, distributing it across multiple channels, and using the right technology to get it done.
In our latest guide, B2B Demand Generation 2021: A Practical Marketing Guide for the Digital-First Era, we dive into each of these foundational elements in detail, giving you valuable insights to apply to your future-focused digital strategy.
Sales & Marketing: Collaborating to Win
When it comes to success with demand generation, teamwork really does make the dream work. According to Marketo, tightly aligned sales and marketing teams are 67% better at closing deals. While close collaboration is not a reality for many companies, the fact is that it’s imperative for organizations hoping to take their demand generation to the next level. No one knows your buyers – and your target market – better than your sales team. Their insight can be a huge help in developing content that’s relevant to your audience. We discuss how to achieve better alignment with your sales team in the guide, but here are some first steps to get started:
- Together with your sales team, develop a profile of your ideal buyers.
- Then, determine the channels you’ll reach them on.
- Together, agree on specific KPIs that provide transparency and visibility for all team members.
Getting Personal: Right People, Right Message, Right Time
Once you’ve worked with your sales team to identify your ideal clients and the buyers in those accounts, it’s time to dial in your messaging. Demand gen – and inbound marketing – is about engaging the right people with the right content at exactly the right time. Someone who has only recently discovered your brand probably isn’t ready for a demo. Understanding and anticipating your audience’s needs is key to building a trustworthy, mutually beneficial relationship.
There are three parts to building this relationship:
Segmentation happens when you sort your audience by common, high-level traits, like industry, job title, or product interest. Proper segmentation can help you identify the pain points and challenges shared by groups of your audience.
Targeting is focused on the buying group for a particular prospect account. Some common B2B buying groups are finance, IT, procurement, and the end-user. Effective targeting means you’re able to speak to the needs a group is trying to fill.
Finally, personalization tailors your outreach and your content so that it speaks directly to each prospective account and individual. For example, you can personalize existing pieces of informational content to specifically mention a prospect’s company, even including their logo and branding in the visuals.
These tactics increase readership and engagement as they demonstrate your focus on the company and the buyers in the group. But to accomplish this at scale for demand generation, marketing automation is a must. An automation platform allows you to build lists, create nurture streams, scale personalization, and track engagement across all of your marketing programs. We’ll talk more about marketing technology in a bit, and in our guide.
Filling the Funnel: Content that Converts
B2B marketing used to be simple: flyers, brochures, and other print resources distributed by sales reps and at trade shows were the tools of the trade. But as the internet grew and rose in popularity, it took B2B communications with it.
Successful marketing is customer-centric, and that means that today’s marketers rely on content marketing to inform, educate, and entertain customers at every stage of the buyer journey. Content can be used to show a prospect why your solution has the answers to their needs, rather than just telling them.
First thing’s first: You need a content plan. A healthy mix of content types – blog posts, videos, eGuides, and so on – delivered on different channels can help ensure that you reach the right people at the right stage of their journey with your brand. For a fuller picture on developing a content strategy that empowers you to attract and engage your target buyers, download our full guide.
Multichannel Marketing: When One Isn’t Anywhere Near Enough
A study by Gartner revealed that companies that use 4 or more channels to engage prospects saw 300% better performance than those that used just one or two channels. 300%! What that tells us is that prospects respond better when they encounter your content in multiple places and multiple ways. A blog post they discover organically, plus an email, plus social media post that includes an informational video - all work cumulatively to give a prospect a full picture of what you have to offer.
The first step to properly implementing a multichannel marketing campaign is to understand your options. The PESO model, which stands for Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media types, can help. You’ll need to catalog all of your marketing materials so you can fully understand what you have, what you need to update or repurpose, and which content works best on which channels. With that planning done, you’ll gain the control you need to get them all working together.
The MarTech Stack: Building for Growth
Technology is an essential part of a successful digital-focused demand generation strategy. It enables scalability, automation, optimization, and analytics. But it’s important to note that marketing technology is a tool, not a strategy.
Your martech stack will likely include several tools that provide all or part of the following:
- Automation platform - like HubSpot or Marketo
- Content management system, or CMS
- Customer relationship management system, or CRM
- Platform for ad delivery – Search Social, display, retargeting
- Business Contact databases and Intent Data – like ZoomInfo, SalesLoft, and Bombora
- Video and conferencing – webinars, demos, and Virtual events
- Business intelligence for reporting and data analytics
- Social media management
- Productivity or project management platform
Today there are thousands of marketing technology options at our fingertips. It’s true for your prospects, and it’s true for you. That’s why it’s important to do the research to identify which blend of technologies is right for your business, your budget, and your technology skillset.
Demand generation has grown and changed so much in recent years, especially the last one. And with those changes have come incredible opportunities to get more ROI for your marketing efforts.
For more in-depth coverage on how you can create a functional demand generation engine for the realities of today, check out our new guide, "B2B Demand Generation 2021: A Practical Marketing Guide for the Digital-First Era."
Take a closer look at the key drivers of demand generation to create a custom attack plan for you business.